It's Roddick, Blake in final

Both will be shooting for 2nd Legg Mason title

Tennis

August 07, 2005|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - No. 1 seed Andy Roddick said the other day that opposing players can get a racket on his serve. What he didn't say is that there evidently isn't much they can do with those serves when they do.

Yesterday at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center, Roddick powered his way into today's Legg Mason Tennis Classic final, losing just four points on his serve - only one of which came in the second set - as he beat No. 13 seed Paradorn Srichaphan, 7-6 (4), 6-2.

His victory, combined with James Blake's 6-4, 6-3 win over Tomas Berdych last night, set up the first all-American final here since 1990, when Andre Agassi played Jim Grabb.

Blake, who is on the comeback trail after a year of misery in which he broke his neck, lost his father and suffered from zoster, a condition that impacted his hearing, eyesight and balance and temporarily paralyzed one side of his face, wasted little time on Stadium Court.

He finished off Berdych, a 19-year-old who made his mark last year when he beat Roger Federer in the Athens Olympics, in 1 hour, 8 minutes.

"This was the first time I played James," said Berdych. "When I saw him play before, serving wasn't his weapon. Today, it was. Everything he did today was better than me."

When Blake got his first serves in, he won 94 percent of them (31 of 33 points), which is a terrific figure, but in the earlier match, Roddick was even better. Roddick also won 94 percent of his first-serve points (33 of 35), but 85 percent of his second serves (11 of 13), compared to Blake's 55 percent on second serves.

Blake, who spent long hours wondering if he'd ever get back onto a tennis court, let alone into an ATP tournament final, couldn't have cared less.

"The pressure is off," he said. "Playing Andy, who is playing some of the greatest tennis in the world, I'm just going to enjoy it. When I won here in 2002, it all happened so fast. Now I know it can be taken away in a moment, so I'm just going to take my time and enjoy it."

Roddick, like Blake, will be looking for his second Legg Mason title, having won here in 2001.

"I cheer for James," said Roddick, when asked about his feelings for this final. "He's one of the good guys on tour. That said, I want to beat him badly [today]. What he's doing now isn't a surprise. He's just getting back to where he's supposed to be after a year of misfortune."

Blake smiled. Friendship off the court is one thing; on the court, it's something totally different.

"I'm going to have to take care of my serve and then take my chances when I can on his," Blake said. "I know his game and he knows mine and we're also good friends. But we're going to try to beat each other's brains in, too."

Blake spent a lot of time working on improving his serve during his recovery period.

For Roddick, the serve appears to be a natural weapon and yesterday's performance did not awe him, though it impressed others.

"I did feel in a groove," he said. "My first serves this week have all been over 70 percent. That's the biggest test right there. I felt coming in here I was on the verge of playing well, and I feel I've turned a corner.

"But though I feel pretty good on my serve, I don't want to get too high and mighty about it."

One reason for his lack of boasting could have been because Srichaphan did not play the kind of match of which he is capable. Though players said the weather yesterday was easier to play in because of lower humidity, the court surface was hotter than ever, with the thermometer showing 111 degrees.

After a long point that ended with Srichaphan's forehand landing just wide, deciding the first set tie-breaker in Roddick's favor, Srichaphan was broken in the first game of the second set.

"Getting that break, I thought I took the wind out of his sails," said Roddick.

Results

Semifinals

Men's singles

A. Roddick (1) def. P. Srichaphan (13), 7-6 (4), 6-2. J. Blake def. T. Berdych (10), 6-4, 6-3.

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